naezily miza
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The Sky Garden Sentosa is a favoured location for rooftop weddings. But in March, something different took place inside the Garden Terrace, which is an elegantly-designed glass house offering a panoramic view of the sea.

The usual celebratory setup was replaced by a dreamy backdrop of soft pink and cream colours. Roses in similar shades were bundled with cotton to resemble fluffy clouds. This graceful installation eventually formed the backbone of a stylish walkway.

This was where Naezily – a modern Muslim fashion brand – held its first ever fashion show, debuting its Eid 2023 collection called A Sweet Wonder. Like the name suggests, the collection consists a series of classically tailored yet sleek kaftans, pleated dresses, and modern baju kurung in an array of colours.

Naezily eid 2023 nora danish
Naezily’s Eid 2023 collection with Nora Danish (middle) as the brand ambassador / Image credit: Naezily

With A-list Malaysian star Nora Danish as the brand ambassador, the fashion show drew a slew of influencers, celebrities, and entrepreneurs eager to catch a glimpse of the latest designs.

Miza Nazili Ghazali, founder of Naezily, couldn’t have been more grateful for the impressive turnout. In an interview with Vulcan Post, she expressed that she never imagined anything of this sort would happen when she founded the brand right before the COVID-19 pandemic with just S$600 in her pocket.

From an ITE dropout to a serial entrepreneur

Miza’s odyssey into the entrepreneurial world began in 2014 when she was still a full-time student. Her first venture, Deli Cakes, offered a scrumptious range of homemade brownies.

From Kinder Bueno to Ferrero Rocher, Miza’s creations were a delightful explosion of flavours that were hardly seen in Singapore back then, so it was not surprising that the business took off quickly.

Miza admitted running a bakery single-handedly was not a piece of cake (pun intended), especially after dropping out of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and embarking on a mundane nine-to-five job.

Her passion pressed her on and she gradually discovered a flair in bridging market gaps and monetising it. All these propelled her down a new F&B venture in 2015, one that involved selling Thai iced milk tea at a pasar malam (night market).

Iceburnz / Image Credit: @iceburnz_ via Instagram

Together with her friend who sells churros, Miza became one of the pioneering vendors that introduced hipster food to neighbourhood night markets. Her revolutionary spirit paid off, with snaking long queues consistently forming at their stalls.

However, the F&B industry proved to be unforgiving. As rental prices soared, Miza had no choice but to bid farewell to Deli Cakes and Iceburnz. Nonetheless, the momentary success and setback did not stop Miza’s persistence to explore and carve out more of her own niche.

She subsequently founded her third successful business — Naezily — in September 2019.

Miza Nazili Ghazali, founder of Naezily
Miza Nazili Ghazali, founder of Naezily / Image credit: Miza Nazili Ghazali

Miza told me candidly that desperation was what motivated her to jump into an entirely new industry. She was forced to sell her camera and bags to earn the business capital for Naezily — it was a sink-or-swim situation, and she was in full-on survival mode.

She knew if she did not keep pushing herself to evolve, it would be extremely challenging for someone without a formal education or training like herself to enjoy financial stability.

Naezily: A hijab-friendly fashion label born out of desperation

Still, Naezily is not a figment of Miza’s imagination. For years, she has been a fan of kaftans, flowy garments with voluminous sleeves that are beloved among the Malay community.

As Miza astutely pointed out, the kaftans sold in retail shops tend to be garishly designed and outdated. She envisioned something simple yet chic, a wardrobe staple that would resonate with a more diverse and fashion-conscious crowd.

Naezily Kaftans
Naezily updates the traditional kaftans in a more modern style / Image credit: Naezily

Miza said many people are fooled into thinking it’s straightforward to run a clothing line.

“Come up with a fancy name, bulk-buy cheap clothes from Bangkok, and start selling them online,” she quipped. “But how long can a business model like this sustain?”

She believes building loyalty is an important part of retail that new business owners sometimes overlook.

You need people to know, understand, and love your brand, to willingly and repeatedly return to buy your stuff. And this is probably one of the most difficult things to achieve. So, [people should] stop having this mentality that being in the fashion business is easy.

– Miza Nazili Ghazali, founder of Naezily

The 29-year-old asserted entrepreneurship is not just about buying and selling, especially since there are so many competitors in Singapore and beyond.

Setting oneself apart becomes a herculean task to stay afloat. This is why Naezily does not just focus on kaftans, but also expanded their collection to include pleats — a causal, stretchable material that doesn’t require much ironing and comes in many varieties suitable for both hijab and non-hijab-wearing individuals.

Naezily Pleat dresses
Naezily’s pleats collection is suitable for both hijab and non-hijab wearers / Image credit: Naezily

No doubt Naezily’s versatility is its greatest strength, but Miza shared part of her was also offering a solution. Oftentimes, when she shops, she would come across clothing designs that she likes but are not designed in a hijab-friendly manner.

She wants others to avoid the same disappointment and with Naezily, she has achieved just that.

“I think we need to have a purpose for running a business,” Miza noted. “We also need to find the right target audience to recognise the intention of me building the brand. I think that’s when we will witness a game change.”

She also runs a multi-million venture

The problem-solving and purpose-driven mentality sparked Miza’s desire to help health-conscious individuals who are eager to better manage their weight.

miza shortcutx health supplement
Miza started up a health supplement business Shortcutx / Image Credit: Miza Nazili Ghazali

This led her to the founding of her multi-million dollar health supplement business, Shortcutx.

She isn’t slowing down anytime soon and is in fact, shaking things up with her latest investment: a water bottle that can magically change the taste of plain water into a flavoured drink.

Of course, managing multiple businesses can be exhausting. Miza has learnt to better manage her time and entrusts her staff to shoulder certain responsibilities – something she mastered after working herself to the bone for 20 hours a day in her early days of running Deli Cakes and Iceburnz.

“I was not only burnt out, but I also missed the opportunity to grow my businesses by hiring [individuals with expertise] that complement myself,” Miza pointed out.

Looking forward, she feels that the journey remains long and she still has a lot to learn. “I know I don’t come from a very good education background, so I read, ask questions, and seek advice from others to learn.”

She believes her dedication thus far has paid off for people to know there is truly, something special about the brand. “I always tell myself, at the end of the day, it’s the value and effort that we put into the company that matter most.”

She also expressed her commitment to initiate more events like the Naezily fashion show and gather part of the Malay community together. Since Miza is always thinking about the next big thing, I asked what she would dream up next, but she simply smiled and said that it’s still up in the air.

“Perhaps, time will tell,” she mused.

Featured Image Credit: Naezily

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)